Plant City eyes banner year with Relay for Life
PLANT CITY -
Cancer survivor Harold Mott said he finds the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life both rewarding and encouraging.
“Everyone cheering for you makes you feel good,” said Mott, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer nearly 20 years ago.
At 82, he’s going to try to make at least one lap around the Plant City High School track when this year’s relay is held 6 p.m. April 19 through noon April 20. He has bad knees, “but I’m sure going to try to make it,” he said.
As many as 2,000 people are expected to participate in the Plant City relay. The fundraising goal is $275,000, which is $11,000 more than in 2012, when the event was shortened by bad weather.
Plant City’s relay placed third last year among the state’s 360 relays, said Cathy Villiantos, community representative with the cancer society. Naples came in first with more than $600,000 and East Kendall was second with slightly more than Plant City’s total.
This year’s relay is shaping up as another big success, Villianatos said.
“The teams are working very hard,” she said.
The walkers raise money through pledges and donations from supporters and by selling refreshments, gifts and more at the relay.
The work begins long before the first walker takes the first step on the school track. As early as the fall, teams raise money with various fundraisers, such as golf tournaments and car washes.
“The relay is the finale, it’s the celebration of the hard work,” Villiantos said.
Plant City’s success is due to a core of longtime, dedicated volunteers, including families of those who have died of the disease, and the small-town spirit.
The evening starts at 6 p.m. April 19 with an opening ceremony and a victory lap by cancer survivors. At 9 p.m., candles are lit to honor those fighting the disease and to remember those who have lost the fight.
The closing ceremony from 11:30 a.m. to noon April 20 features music by choruses from Plant City elementary schools.
The relays in Plant City tend to have a festive spirit and include old friends catching up with each other, Villianatos said.
“It’s like a big party. The community really enjoys the relay and everything it stands for,” she said.
For information, call Villianatos at (813) 685-0670, Ext. 5457, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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